HOWELL INTENDS TO RETAIN HIS PERFECT TEAM RECORD FOR EUROPE


David Howell is eager to make it a double celebration as he returns to Royal Trophy action after a seven year absence at Dragon Lake Golf Club in Guangzhou, China this week.

The popular English golfer, who was a member of the star–studded European Team who won the inaugural Royal Trophy in 2006, just had time to kiss goodbye to his new–born twin boys before flying to Guangzhou. Howell, who claimed his sixth professional victory at the prestigious Dunhill Links Championship earlier this year, admits the timing of the new arrivals came as a bit of a surprise.

He explained: “The twins weren’t supposed to be born until December 27 – after I get back from the Royal Trophy – but they arrived a couple of weeks early. So it was all a bit hectic, especially as our first son is only a year old.

“My wife and the twins had only been home a day when I flew out to China, but as long as we win back the Royal Trophy it will be worth being parted from them for a week or so.”

Howell has been a keen observer from afar as the Royal Trophy has built on its promising beginnings by blossoming into a hugely prestigious competition, attracting the cream of the golfing talent from Asia and Europe. But that has not come as any surprise to the man who helped Europe to their two biggest Ryder Cup victories of all time either side of their hard–fought 9–7 win in that first Royal Trophy encounter.

He said: “You could see that there was enormous potential for growth in the Royal Trophy, just as Seve predicted when he first asked me to play in it.

“This was his brainchild, and he was incredibly excited by it. And you always expected anything Seve touched to turn to gold, even more so when it was something involving team match play considering his fantastic Ryder Cup record.

“It was an exciting time to be there, just as he was pulling all the strings together. And it is so nice to be involved in it again, and to honour his memory following his sad death a couple of years ago.

“Like everyone else I really enjoyed that week, and went on to have one of the best years of my career. I won the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, made it into the top ten of the world rankings, and I was part of a second overwhelming Ryder Cup victory.

“My career went off the rails a bit after that, but my win in the Dunhill Links at the end of September proved I’m on the right track again.

“I think being selected by Jose Maria Olazabal for another Royal Trophy appearance reflects that resurgence, and now that I’m here I badly want to retain my unbeaten record in European colours.

“That would be another nice story to tell my sons as they grow up.”

The seventh edition of the Royal Trophy will be held on 20-22 December at the Dragon Lake Golf Club in China’s most populous province of Guangdong. Home to over 100 million people and located in the southern part of China, the province also hosts the largest number of golf courses in the country.

The Royal Trophy originated in concert with the vision of the late legendary three-time Open Championship winner and two-time Masters champion Seve Ballesteros, following a meeting in 2001 with his nephew Ivan Ballesteros and sports entrepreneur Lincoln Venancio. The Spaniard, winner of over 80 international titles, intended to gift Asia with the same golf growth impetus the Ryder Cup provided for Europe in the 1980s and 1990s.

Following discovery of his illness in 1998, Seve Ballesteros called upon close friend and Ryder Cup partner Jose Maria Olazabal to take over the captaincy of the European Team for the Royal Trophy and personally invited six-time Major winner Sir Nick Faldo, Masters champion Ian Woosnam O.B.E., current Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley and Olazabal to steward the Event into the future, as members of the Players’ Committee.

The Royal Trophy will also remain at Dragon Lake Golf Club in 2014 for the competition’s eighth hosting.

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